Space Age and Death

Scripture: Genesis 3:22-23, Isaiah 59:2, Isaiah 65:17-19
Will the great strides in science eventually conquer death? Many things have been accomplished that seemed impossible years ago. Can scientific knowledge conquer this last enemy? The wages of sin is death and it is sin that is the problem in conquering death.
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Can the space age conquer death? Will scientists succeed in creating life in their laboratory test tubes.

No one will deny the fact that this modern age of scientific discovery has seen many things accomplished which were thought by earlier generations to be impossible. Diseases which have brought premature death to multitudes have been brought under control and are scarcely heard of today. Our increase of scientific knowledge has brought about a tremendous decrease in infant mortality. Skilled physicians successfully transplant body organs and tissues, even human hearts, thus extending the life span of men and women who otherwise would have died. God created us to live and not to die. Why then, should the space age not conquer death and extend mankind's life expectancy indefinitely into the future?

According to the Bible, sickness, sorrow, and death are the results of sin. God's plan is to make an end of sin and then sickness, sorrow, and death will be no more. If it were possible for man to conquer death without conquering sin, there would still be sorrow and heartache. As long as the problem of sin remains there will be immorality, broken homes, and broken hearts. Some of these things are worse than death itself. God plans to make an end of sin. It is not His plan that sinners shall live forever. This is demonstrated by the fact that after Adam's sin he was separated from the tree of life which perpetuated life. "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken." Genesis 3:22, 23.

Actually the problem is sin. Nearly six thousand years of experiment has demonstrated man's inability to deal with the problem of sin, apart from Christ. History proves that health and prosperity do not necessarily produce morality. "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you ... ." Isaiah 59:2.

This is the problem. And the word "iniquity" means sin. Sin is the problem. It is sin, or iniquity, that comes in between God and humanity. "The wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23. The result of sin is death. Death is the result of sin, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Turning now, once again, to the writings of Isaiah. Isaiah is spoken of as the gospel prophet. Although his book is found back in the Old Testament scriptures, it just radiates with the hope of the gospel. Isaiah seems to have had in a very special sense a vision of the Lord and this vision of the Lord he has clearly passed on to us through his sacred writings. Isaiah 65:17,19: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind ... and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."

What a wonderful thing it is to know that there is a time coming when there will be no longer the voice of weeping, no more crying, no more sorrow, and no more death. It isn't that way today. Many of you have seen Arlington National Cemetery back there in Virginia. You have seen the acres of crosses reminding us of the reality of death. It is estimated that since the beginning of human life upon our planet somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 billion men, women, and children have lived and died upon this earth. Just think of it, scattered somewhere upon the face of the globe are the remains of 140 billion men and women like you and me who have lived in different generations, men and women who have lived and loved, and have known the emotions that you and I know. Men and women who have known joy and sorrow, heartache and heartbreak. Men and women who have lived and toiled and died. Some with hope and some without hope.

Certainly such a roster demands some answer to the question of death, some answer to what God is ultimately going to do about the problem of death. Here is part of God's answer: "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth ... ." John 5:28, 29. Sometimes, you know, we are just staggered by the awfulness of death, especially when it comes close, especially when it reaches right into the family circle. Then it becomes real. It is easy to brush it aside when it is outside the family. It is easy to just shrug our shoulders and say it is unpleasant to think about it. We don't even want to talk about it. But when it comes right into the family, our very hearts demand an answer.

Jesus says there is going to be a resurrection. Everyone who sleeps in the dust is going to come forth. There will be two classes in the resurrection. Of course, we decide, here in this life in which of those two classes we shall be.

Make no mistake about it, the Bible defines death as an enemy. Sometimes preachers try to gloss it over. We try to rationalize, theorize, and explain that death is often a blessing, and I suppose that in some instances it is, but basically, the Bible says death is an enemy. It wasn't a part of God's original plan. God created us to live and not to die. Death is a consequence of sin. When sin entered into this world it brought with it consequences: pain, suffering, heartache, crying, sickness, and ultimately death.

Thank God for that empty tomb outside Jerusalem. That tomb which for nineteen centuries has been empty. The very thought of this tomb reminds us of the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation: "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore," and then Jesus added these words: He said, "And I have the keys of hell (in this case it means the grave) and of death." Revelation 1:18. This is one of the most comforting promises in all the Bible, and it comes right from the lips of Jesus. He said, "I have the keys of the grave and of death."

Many a time I have stood by a sorrowing family and offered these words of comfort to those who mourn. And what a comfort it is to know that though the loved one has been snatched out of the family circle and taken away, One whom we know and can trust says, "I have the key, I have the key to the grave and of death." Some day in God's own good time the Lord will turn the key and those that sleep in the dust of the earth will come forth. That is what Jesus said. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice." John 5:28

Notice the words of Paul as he wrote to the church at Corinth. "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain ... ." I Corinthians 15:16, 17. You see, in the teachings of Paul, this whole matter of man coming forth from the grave is tied right in with the resurrection of Christ. Paul said that Christ's resurrection is our assurance of a resurrection. He says that apart from this, our faith is vain. "Then they also which have fallen asleep in Christ are perished." But thank God, this is not the case, because Christ did rise from the tomb, and because of this we shall live also if we put our trust in Him. It is a matter of choice, like everything else in Christianity, it is a matter of choice, and you must make the decision.

Some people say, "It is no use talking about death and what lies beyond the grave. We don't know anything about it." But we do know something about it. The apostle Paul says, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." I Thessalonians 4:13.

Paul says, I don't want you as Christians to be left in ignorance and without hope concerning those who are sleeping the sleep of death, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first." I Thessalonians 4:16.

Another wonderful promise of the resurrection, the dead in Christ shall rise, and they shall rise first. The prophet Micah pictures Christ as the tower of the flock. "And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion ... ." Micah 4:8. The first dominion is the dominion that was given to Adam back there in the very beginning; the dominion that Adam lost because of sin. This same dominion is going to be restored through Jesus, the One who towers head and shoulders above all who have ever lived upon this planet. I think this is a wonderful promise, the promise that the first dominion that was lost by Adam's sin is going to be restored through Christ's righteousness. Then will be fulfilled the promise that came from the lips of Jesus who said, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5.

If men of science learned how to create life, it wouldn't be the meek who would inherit the earth, it would be the strong and the mighty. But the Bible says it is the meek who are going to inherit the earth. Not those who are always trying to elbow their way around, making advantages for themselves at the expense of others, but those who believe in honesty and brotherhood, those who are willing to live by the noble principles of this Book.

"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." II Peter 3:13. Not a new planet but this same planet made new. Made like it was in the beginning. The restoration of the first dominion. God gave this promise to Abraham almost four thousand years ago. That is when Abraham lived. It was a long time ago. God spoke to Abraham one night and said, Look up at the stars in the heaven, look at the grains of sand on the seashore. Then God said to Abraham, Your descendants are going to be as numerous as the stars of the heavens, as countless as the sand on the seashore.

Paul in the book of Romans, referring to this same promise, said, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world ... ." Romans 4:13. This was the promise that God made to Abraham, that he and his descendants should inherit the earth. How do we tie this in with the text that says, The meek shall inherit the earth? Before we leave this text, let us read it again, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." Romans 4:13.

This gives us a clue that the realization of this promise depends upon our faith in Christ. Even though the promise was given way back there in Old Testament times some two thousand years before Jesus Christ was born into this world of ours, yet the promise hinged upon faith in Christ. The writer of Hebrews, in the New Testament, says that Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Hebrews 11:10. Abraham looked forward to a place in the heavenly city described way over in the book of Revelation. Revelations 21:2.

Now you might say, Well, if the promise is on the basis of faith, we don't need to worry about the laws of God. We don't need to worry about the commandments; but I think that might be a rash conclusion to come to, because the Bible also reminds us that Abraham had great respect for the commandments of God. That is one reason that God chose Abraham to be a leader of his people, "Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statues, and my laws." Genesis 26:5.

Abraham knew that salvation was on the basis of faith, but Abraham didn't use this faith as an excuse for disregarding the law of God. No, God said, "Abraham kept my commandments and my laws."

Galatians 3:29 says, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." In other words, all those who accept Christ as their Saviour are counted as the spiritual descendants of Abraham. Abraham was a man of faith who believed in God and by faith he accepted the promised Messiah who was to come. As we exercise this same principle of faith, we are counted as the spiritual descendants of Abraham and thus heirs according to the promise that God made to Abraham.

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